Meet your next music obsession: the new bands you need to know about
Everyone knows Ireland’s reputation for music. It’s a land steeped in traditions of songwriting and storytelling, so it’s no surprise that it continues to produce generation after generation of new talent.
Recently, though, we’ve seen a new eclecticism developing in Ireland’s cities and towns, with rock and punk bands joined by hip-hop, rap, R&B and electronic artists. They are independent spirits – unique talents doing things on their own terms.
Here are 10 Irish acts we think you’ll love:
Meet Matthew Crossan, Jason Feenan and Luke McLaughlin: these firebrands are one of the most ambitious and thrilling live acts around. Hailing from Derry in Northern Ireland, they first rose to prominence for politically charged songs that tapped into social disillusionment and generational frustration. Their most recent single, “Old Man’s Land”, draws influence from old Irish balladeers and “the romanticism of their songs – it attempts to pick up the narration and story from where they left off,” the band say. Along with sold-out headline tours of their own, they’ve supported rock legends including Paul Weller, The Specials, and Liam Gallagher.
Indie-electronic hip-hop trio Just Wondering are friends Wale Akande, Jack O’Shaughnessy and Adam Redmond. They’ve been part of Dublin’s thriving music scene since 2020, picking up early buzz with singles such as “Drive” and “F*** That”. They incorporate an extraordinarily broad range of influences but somehow manage to channel that into a cohesive sound that is entirely their own. Fans of early The 1975, Jon Hopkins and Central Cee will all find something to love about them.
Looking for songs that delve into themes such as mental health and masculinity? Look no further than For Those I Love, aka Dublin-born poet and musician David Balfe. He received critical acclaim for his self-titled debut album, released in 2021, which The Independent described as “a visceral and focused study of grief, guilt, rage and hope”. Balfe frequently tackles real-life issues he grew up surrounded by, influenced by artists including Joy Division and Mike Skinner.
This brilliant quartet formed in 2016 and have since gone on to release two excellent studio albums, including 2022’s Leave the Light On. Co-lead vocalists/bassists Pamela Connolly and Sarah Corcoran, drummer Rachel Lyons and guitarist Cathy McGuinness are heavily influenced by Ireland’s deep-rooted Catholicism and how that ties in with their experiences as four queer women. Take last year’s single “Liffey”, which they performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden, on which Connolly and Corcoran sing: “Oh, spread me over the Liffey/ And sing me off to sleep/ I wanna take you with me/ To wash and dry your feet.” Beautiful and evocative.
This Dublin four-piece already have a No 1 album under their belts and are well on their way to becoming one of our biggest new rock bands. Their debut It Won’t Always Be Like This, which charted in both the UK and Ireland on its release last year, was full to the brim of scuzzy, addictive songs such as “Cheer Up Baby” and the New Order-influenced “Who’s Your Money On? (Plastic House)”.
Snapped up by Alan McGee, the man who discovered Oasis and helped turn them into one of the biggest bands on the planet, The Clockworks are a post-punk band with their eyes on the horizon. Think thrashy guitars, flailing drums and spitfire lyrical delivery. Formed in Galway, the four-piece – James McGregor, Sean Connelly, Damian Greaney and Tom Freeman – have a lot to say and a talent for making you listen.
Inspired by Erykah Badu, 23-year-old Dublin-born artist Aby Coulibaly only started recording her own music around 2019, uploading songs to Soundcloud. Her low croon and mellow R&B sound takes notes from James Blake, Lauryn Hill and Empire of the Sun; her lyrics are romantic, astute and brilliantly candid. Check out her singles to date including “Taurus”, “where u at” and last year’s “Weekdays”. We can’t wait for the album!
Dublin-formed post-punks The Murder Capital are James McGovern, Damien Tuit, Cathal Roper, Gabriel Pascal Blake and Diarmuid Brennan. Touring with fellow rock acts including the Mercury Prize-nominated Fontaines DC, these guys have already built up a fiercely loyal fanbase. Jittery percussion, whining guitars and frontman McGovern’s brooding howls have drawn comparisons to Joy Division and The Cure. Their second album, the bristling Gigi’s Recovery, was released this year on 20 January.
Limerick-based Irish-Zambian rapper and singer Denise Chaila has already collaborated with Ed Sheeran, and she’s barely warmed up. Their 2022 team-up on the singer-songwriter’s “2step” remix was a soulful blend of great harmonies and intricate guitar-picking, with a little hip-hop thrown into the mix. Irish actor and Hollywood star Cillian Murphy sang her praises on his BBC Radio 6 show, and she headlined a show at King John’s Castle in Limerick last year.
Gilla Band frontman Dara Kiely is a force to be reckoned with. Leading their riotous sound, described as “futurist dancefloor nihilism”, he can be found barking and howling a surrealist, stream-of-consciousness-style narrative. Their third album, Most Normal, charted in the Top 40 in Ireland upon its release last year.
Slane Irish Whiskey: For the perfect St Patrick’s Day celebration
Forged within the idyllic Boyne Valley, Slane Distillery is built on the grounds of the legendary Slane Castle, an ancient estate where they make extraordinary whiskey and throw legendary gigs. Since the first incredible concert in 1981, Slane Castle has hosted some of the most iconic acts in music history. This year sees the return of the Slane Castle concerts for the first time since 2019.
Slane Irish Whiskey is a blend of malt and grain whiskeys which are matured using a signature triple-casked process that builds a complex and full-flavoured taste profile. Each cask is matured separately and then they are masterfully blended together.
Blending, like music, is about achieving the right balance between these different notes and with these three casks there are plenty of flavours to play with. From the virgin oak cask, there is vanilla and toasted oak, from the seasoned cask, brown sugar and ripe banana, while the oloroso sherry cask delivers dried fruits and spice. All of this comes together in the blend to create a rich, bold Irish whiskey that stands out, even when mixed into a classic cocktail or favourite mixer.
Click here to find out more about Slane whiskey, or order online.
Please drink responsibly.